A retired Navy veteran is on a mission to make sure the stories of fallen heroes live on forever.
On Wednesday, his journey brought him to the town of Madison.
“It’s one thing to be a military mom, it’s another to be a Gold Star mother,” Helen Keiser-Pedersen said.
Her son Army Captain Andrew Pedersen-Keel was killed in 2013 during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan.
“Less than one percent of the American population served and to be a ranger and a green beret, that’s even a very small percentage,” his stepfather Bob Keiser said. “It’s the very elite, it’s the very best, it’s the very best trained.”
Pedersen-Keel enrolled at West Point after 9/11.
“His class was the first class to come into West Point during war and graduating at war,” Keiser said.
Six years after losing their son, his parents are sharing his story with the Gold Star Dirt project.
“Without any other thought, we agreed to be interviewed,” Keiser-Pedersen said.
Retired Navy veteran Keith Sherman is traveling to all 50 states to record and document the stories of fallen service members to be submitted to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
“I wanted to go across the country and go to hometowns of fallen service members that I had serve with, friends and maybe share anecdotes with their families that they hadn’t heard,” Sherman explained.
For Sherman, who suffered a traumatic brain injury, this project is therapeutic.
“After doing it, it’s so fulfilling and so healing and wholesome,” he said.
For the Gold Star families, this is a way to inspire future generations of soldiers.
“A lot of times if someone just plants a seed that’s enough,” Keiser-Pedersen said.
And this helps make sure these selfless stories of sacrifice live on.
“There’s a saying that a soldier dies twice, first time on the battlefield and secondly when their name is no longer spoken,” Keiser said. “This kind of project is absolutely perfect because it will keep Andrew’s name alive.”